Fintech Trends in Small Business

By Bert Jacobs
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist
Life is Good


My brother John and I founded Life is Good 25 years ago. And looking back over the evolution of our company, the lessons we learned from having to bounce back from challenges in the early days ended up helping our business the most.  

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The Top 3 Things I Learned Running a Small Business by Bert Jacobs

May 6, 2019

Fintech Trends in Small Business

By Bert Jacobs
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist
Life is Good


My brother John and I founded Life is Good 25 years ago. And looking back over the evolution of our company, the lessons we learned from having to bounce back from challenges in the early days ended up helping our business the most.

Neither of us went to business school, so you won’t see what I’m about to share with you in any textbook. But that’s what makes these lessons so valuable to us — and hopefully to anyone else starting or growing a small business of their own.
Here are a few things we’ve learned over the last 25 years.

1. Know who you are, and act like it

In the early years, we used to go to a trade show every year in Atlanta called the Super Show. It was a sports‐themed trade show. When we first did the show, John and I were so young that everyone would always ask us “Can we speak to your boss?” So we decided that we would wear suits so people would take us more seriously. We wore these suits and ties and this one guy gave us an order, and after, he said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question? Why are you guys wearing suits?” And we told him, “Well, it’s because we weren’t getting any respect.” His response was simple. He said, “Let me give you a piece of advice: know who you are and act like it. You guys are not suit and tie guys, you’re T‐shirt guys…”

That became the definition of branding at Life is Good ‐ know who you are and act like it. And from there on out, we never wore suits and ties again; we wore T‐shirts. And you know what, we were a lot more comfortable because we were able to live and work with that guiding light of knowing who we were and acting like it.

2. Stop trying to achieve work‐life balance

Work‐life balance is a term that baffles me. In my opinion, there is no such thing. 

Especially for an entrepreneur or small business owner. Work is such an integral part of your life and vice versa, it’s not one or the other. The important thing is to find joy in the work you do and for your work to serve your values, then you don’t create this ongoing battle between work and the rest of your life.

3. Celebrate

Because our company culture is rooted in optimism, we never miss an opportunity to celebrate and find gratitude in moments big and small. Running a business is hard – there is never going to be a year (or even a day) without set‐backs or challenges, so it’s important to find moments to celebrate and find pride with where you’re at.

We tossed around a lot of ideas when it came to planning how we would celebrate our 25th year in business. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than honor our mom, Joan, and the simple prompt that she asked us every night at the dinner table ‐ Tell Me Something Good – in a way that inspires optimism in others and helps kids in need. Our team created the #SOMETHINGGOOD campaign to inspire a movement to shift the cultural conversation in our world to focus on the good things in life instead of the bad.

For every person on social media who shares something good in their life and uses the #SOMETHINGGOOD hashtag, we will donate $1 to the Life is Good Kids Foundation. With the help from our friends at TSYS, we know we can meet our goal of inspiring 1 million people to get involved and donating $1 million to help children facing difficult circumstances.

So take a minute to tell us something good that happened today. In your business or in your life. Share it on social media, use the hashtag and not only are you helping to change the conversation in our culture, but you just got us one step closer to helping kids in need.

Now go celebrate.

Photo credit: Aimee Corrigan

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